Released: 2014, Greyhaze Records
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
After keeping a relatively low profile following his stints with Morbid Angel a decade ago, save for recording/performing with the rather awesome death metal performance artist Nader Sadek, Steve Tucker returns with his new band Warfather - who actually sound a lot more like his old band than his old band did on their own last album.
Where Morbid Angel got all experimental and at times downright ridiculous on their divisive 2011 comeback album Illud Divinum Insanus, Tucker sticks with the technical, apocalyptic, and at times elegant death metal that long has been Morbid's forte, adds some new twists and delivers a far more viscerally satisfying – if somewhat familiar – final product with Warfather's debut. Orchestrating The Apocalypse recalls a somewhat more streamlined version of the three Morbid albums Tucker was a part of, with a bit of Nile thrown in via an occasional Middle Eastern vibe.
Warfather maintain the manic, elliptical death metal elements, not to mention the lithe, soaring leadwork – Tucker switches from bass to guitar here, and shares duties with one Armatura – and commanding, ominous vocals that made Morbid so formidable. Though Tucker spares himself the tongue-twisting Sumerian gymnastics he had to contend with on Formulas Fatal to the Flesh, his debut with Morbid, he still leaves himself rather breathless with his unrelenting “I am the hand of doom” war cry here.
Orchestrating doesn't get too caught up in unnecessary dynamism or frivolity – save for a few, thankfully brief, instrumental interludes – it's all about aggression and speed. Deimos' rivet gun drumming rarely slows for a reload, even on a mid-tempo song like “Ageless Merciless.” “God and Machines,” “Ashes and “Runes” or “The Shifting Poles,” on the other hand, are all out at all times, with everything delivered at light speed.
The one thing that works against Orchestrating, however, is its thin production. There is no bottom end here at all, the drums crackle instead pop and the vocals get buried in the mix under a sometimes tinny barrage of guitar. Enlisting someone like Tucker's old bandmate Erik Rutan to help in the studio might have really bolstered the sound here and turned a pretty decent debut into a benchmark for unbridled brutality.